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Social networking filled with mixed emotions, Pew finds

The Pew Research Center releases a report about the social and emotional climate that American adults experience on social-networking sites. Turns out it's a mixed bag, like life.

Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

Life in cyberspace turns out to be about as complicated as real life.

The Pew Research Center today released a report that documents the social and emotional climate for American adults on social-networking sites. For the most part, that climate is a positive one, the survey found.

Pew says the report is the result of a survey on Americans' use of the Internet. The survey was done via telephone interview on both landlines and cell phones last year from July 25 to August 26, with 2,260 adults, age 18 or older, participating.

According to the report, 85 percent of social-network-using adults deduced from social media that people are mostly kind, while at the same time almost half of them said they have seen mean or cruel behavior displayed by others at least occasionally.

Perhaps more interesting is that 26 percent of respondents said that they have had at least one of the bad experience (they weren't limited to choosing just one) outlined in the survey as the result of social networking. These bad experiences include the ending of a friendship (15 percent); face-to-face argument or confrontations (12 percent); a problem with family (11 percent); and serious issues such as physical fights or trouble at work (6 percent).

In addition, some 13 percent of adult social network users said that they were the recipient of mean or cruel treatment on a social-networking site in the past 12 months. Five percent of survey participants even portrayed people on the social networking sites as mostly unkind.

The report also confirmed that Facebook is the most popular networking site with 87 percent of the survey's participants being active members. Also, 55 percent said that they visit their social-networking site at least once a day.

The full report and the survey questions can be found here. The Pew Research Center said that the report has an error margin of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.